The National Academies

NCHRP 08-36/Task 062 [Completed]

Best Practice Methodology for Calculating Return on Investment (ROI) for Transportation Programs and Projects
[ NCHRP 08-36 (Research for the AASHTO Standing Committee on Planning) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $75,000
Research Agency: Cambridge Systematics
Principal Investigator: Chris Wornum
Effective Date: 8/3/2006
Completion Date: 6/2/2007
Comments: Completed - Final Report sent to AASHTO

Transportation agencies are increasingly considering “return-on-investment” (ROI) when evaluating projects for inclusion in plans and programs.   Projects are commonly evaluated on the basis of costs and benefits.  Costs usually include project development and construction, but not full life-cycle costs.  Benefits typically include safety (reductions in fatalities, injuries and property loss accidents), delay savings and possibly direct economic impacts (effects of labor and material expenditures multiplied appropriately through the local and state economy).  To better consider the public’s return on the investment of it’s transportation funds, “costs” should also reflect life-cycle costs.   “Benefits” should include the economic value of increased capacity and travel time reliability, and economic development/growth stimuli.  The current trend of trying to leverage private capital investments through public-private–partnerships (PPPs) further complicates the evaluation of ROI.


The objectives of this project are to: identify the most appropriate criteria for quantifying public transportation project ROIs that will allow comparisons between modal, operational and capacity increasing projects; identify evolving methods for considering the respective returns on public and private investments resulting from public-private partnerships; evaluate currently available methodologies that best address the estimation of ROI and: identify information and methodological gaps that suggest further research opportunities.

The final report can be found at www.statewideplanning.org.

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